1. The second prompt is revealed! (Q2 2018)

    "Breaking into Snape's office in the middle of the night was a risky move at the best of times..."

    Deadline is June 18th, also known as the 22nd Anniversary of a seriously sad day—a tremendously black day for anyone.

    As with before you can check out the new thread discussing scoring, rules, and other such matters in the in the Story Competitions forum.

    Dismiss Notice

The mechanics of the Killing Curse

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by pbluekan, Jan 24, 2018.

  1. pbluekan

    pbluekan Professor DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2014
    Messages:
    447
    Location:
    United States of Trump
    I’m sure there is one of these buried somewhere in the 75-odd pages, but it’s likely excruciatingly old and resurrecting it for the sake of continuity just isn’t worth it.

    Ok, so this started in the Harry Potter memes thread over a comic where Harry accidentally kills Ron by saying “Abra Kadabra.” Because DLP is a humor graveyard a place of thoughtful discussion it spawned a bit of talk over the killing curse and how it specifically works. The discussion boiled down to these two points:
    1. According to canon, you have to really mean the curses and that “everyone in that class could have AK’d Crouch and he wouldn’t have gotten even a nosebleed.”
    2. In most fanfiction, it’s treated as a bullet to the head. Hit and you’re done.
    So, according to canon, the fandom interpretation is very much inaccurate, and presumably, if you are hit by someone who is capable of casting the curse, you’re dead.

    That said, I’ve got a few questions myself.
    • When Crouch says that the curses have to be meant, what exactly does this mean?
    Specifically, does this involve meaning to kill the intended target, meaning to kill in general, or a more nebulous intent such as hate or disregard for life? I’ve seen numerous explanations in the fandom, and one of my favorites was that it wasn’t so much a desire or an intention to kill, as raw emotion. In the case of this particular piece, it was hate. For reference, this was in the Merlin arc of A Long Journey Home.

    • Was the talk over a “nosebleed” simply metaphor for “you won’t hurt me” or was it specifically adressing the fact that he would be harmed, but only minimally? How exactly does the curse work?
    I’ve always classified the curse as soul magic. You get hit and it rips your soul from your body and sends it onwards. The events at the end of Deathly Hallows seem to bear this out. Harry was clearly hit with a killing curse and suffered no ill effects other than unexplainable and, admittedly temporary, death.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Lindsey

    Lindsey Death Eater

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2010
    Messages:
    928
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    If we disregard the seventh book, the three Unforgivable Curses seemed to be fueled by intent.

    Harry, even in his anger at Bellatrix, could not get the Cruciatus to work because you had to want to torture someone. Harry wanting her to suffer was not enough. Rowling made it seem that to use the Unforgivables, you had to seriously enjoy to cause pain and death.

    This made me assume that the Killing Curse and Imperius Curses were in the same mold. To get the Killing Curse to work you had to want to cause death, not just want someone dead for a quick moment.

    The Imperius Curse you had to want to bend someone to your will and like it.

    I've always figured the Unforgivables were unforgivable because only depraved people could cast them.

    The Seventh book changed that.

    The Unforgivables were cast by all sorts of people with minimal risk. Harry managed to cast the Cruciatus just because he was angry and have it work while everyone was flinging around the Imperius Curse successfully, even without training. It showed a differnet side of the Unforgivables. Perhaps they carry such a heavy sentence because they are not that hard to cast.

    By merging these two mechanics together, I would say the Killing Curse (as well as its partners) are not that hard to cast. As long as someone is in a 'dark enough' mood or situation, they could successfully cast any of the three curses. This is why they carry such a heavy penalty even though there are probably a lot darker curses out there that could do so much worse.

    I do think people who end up using the Unforgivables once, become more likely to use them again. It's similar to being in a war and killing people- the first person will be the hardest but after enough times, it becomes easier and easier. This is why Voldemort defaults to the Unforgivables. They are super effective, hard to block and dodge and easy to cast. It's a triple win for a Dark Lord.
     
  3. TheWiseTomato

    TheWiseTomato Tactical Tomato DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2009
    Messages:
    3,192
    Location:
    Australia.
    I thought Harry did manage to cast it in OotP, he just did a shite job of it? Compared to the only person otherwise likely to be casting that Curse on Bellatrix.
     
  4. pbluekan

    pbluekan Professor DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2014
    Messages:
    447
    Location:
    United States of Trump
    Weren’t aurors granted use of the Killing Curse in the previous war? Hell, presumably Moody could have used all three curses quite handily and was known to be able to or Crouch wouldn’t have done it and Dumbledore would have come down like a ton of wrinkled, grey bearded, bricks. Mad Eye was crazy, but he wasn’t a murderous psychopath.

    I don’t disagree that the last book generally, uh, threw the book out when it came to the unforgivables, though.
     
  5. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast Prestige DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2006
    Messages:
    1,125
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    High Score:
    13,152
    We know what a soulless person looks like: a Dementor victim. Ergo the Killing curse cannot work by expelling the soul. It definitely causes bodily death, by all accounts like flicking an off switch, not just spiritual death.
     
  6. Download

    Download Supreme Mugwump DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2014
    Messages:
    1,612
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    Yeah, pretty sure he did a shit job compared to Voldemort. His curse still made her scream.
    --- Post automerged ---
    It might be the difference between removing the soul and actually pushing it into the afterlife.
     
  7. Armani

    Armani Second Year

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2015
    Messages:
    55
    Location:
    Not Here
    Well, it says on the Harry Potter wiki that :
    Considering this, one could say that casting the killing curse, which classifies as "deliberately commit murder" (because the caster actually has to say the words towards the person and want them to die) actually does rip a part of the soul away from the person. Now, on the mechanics of the killing curse, the Harry Potter wiki states:
    So, yes, the killing curse needs to have at least some intent behind it, and the caster needs to be skilled.
     
  8. Joe's Nemesis

    Joe's Nemesis High Score: 2,058 Prestige

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2012
    Messages:
    1,050
    High Score:
    2,058
    Someone quoted the wiki four hours ago and their still alive? Damn. This site is getting soft in its old age.
     
    HMM
  9. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast Prestige DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2006
    Messages:
    1,125
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    High Score:
    13,152
    That's the soul of the caster, not the victim, and is true of all murder, not just the use of the Killing Curse (see the Diary horcrux, created via setting a deadly animal on a person).
     
  10. Polkiuj

    Polkiuj Squib

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2017
    Messages:
    7
    High Score:
    0
    To my mind the Killing Curse imposes the conceptual idea of 'dead' on its target. Completely circumnavigating the question of what it does with the victim's body or soul.

    In real (Muggle) medicine the line between life and death is often blurred. "You're not dead until you're warm and dead" is i believe an example expression. You can kill someone with medicine and then bring them back later under certain circumstances.

    With magic, and the Killing Curse in particular, I believe it is much more black and white. Since magic overrules the intricate scientific reality of nature with conceptual magical nature, the exact mechanics of the Killing Curse is rendered unimportant.

    The same way it is unimportant whether the Levitation Charm should cause an equal and opposite force when used to levitate an object, it is equally unimportant in what way the Killing Curse kills someone.

    To paraphrase Taure:
    The Levitation Charm does not levitate objects by applying force. It lifts them up because magic says they should 'levitate' and physics can go bugger off.

    The Killing Curse does not kill people by [insert method here]. It kills them because magic says the should be 'dead' and physics/medicine can go bugger off.

    If you tried to revive a victim of the Killing Curse you would fail because the victim is magically enforced to be 'dead' by the spell. Not like a di-spell-able continuous effect but just a new fact of reality.

    Sorry if I seemed unclear or stepped on anyone's toes. I really like to think about these kinds of things and tend to get carried away.
     
  11. GreatRedDragon

    GreatRedDragon Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2018
    Messages:
    53
    Gender:
    Male
    I agree with OP, it probably just blows the soul out from the body in a forceful fashion, causing them to die rather than simply go into demented mode. I think that what he meant by 'nosebleed' is that using the spell needs a certain amount of 'force' behind it, simply attempting to 'push' someone's soul out without the force of something powerful like emotions would just result in minimal damage, like a nosebleed.
     
  12. Distended Destiny2018

    Distended Destiny2018 First Year

    Joined:
    May 5, 2018
    Messages:
    28
    If the killing curse causes bodily death, then how did Harry survive his trip to "King's Cross"? His soul would have returned but the body would be "off", unless you are implying that that it could be turned back "on"?
     
  13. Taure

    Taure Magical Core Enthusiast Prestige DLP Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2006
    Messages:
    1,125
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    High Score:
    13,152
    This is explained in DH:

    Harry survived death in DH for the same reason that Voldemort did in 1981: he has an anchor tethering him to life.

    Indeed, this is the only situation that makes sense. To destroy a horcrux, you must put the physical container beyond magical repair. For a living host, that means death. Note that the basilisk venom in CoS did not destroy the horcrux in Harry because he didn't die. The only way for the horcrux to be removed from Harry was for his body to die.
     
  14. deyas

    deyas Sixth Year

    Joined:
    May 4, 2009
    Messages:
    173
    Location:
    Farmington, New Mexico
    Y'know, to be honest... I legitimately hadn't recalled the solution being quite that artful. Or at least, consistent within the greater narrative.
     
Loading...